bubble net feeding

From: Phil Clapham (pclapham@whsun1.wh.whoi.edu)
Date: Sat Sep 14 2002 - 22:54:27 EDT

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    No, it is not true that bubble netting has been documented only in
    southeastern Alaskan humpback whales. It occurs also in the North
    Atlantic (we see it frequently out here in the Gulf of Maine). However,
    its frequency in Alaska is much higher than in the Atlantic, where another
    technique - that of bubble clouds - predominates. The bubble cloud is a
    large burst of bubbles (nets are columns of bubbles blown in a circle or
    spiral). Both techniques are clearly learned, though from long-term
    studies of idntified individual humpbacks here we know that a specific
    technique is not necessarily passed on from mother to offspring. Mothers
    who are bubble netters sometimes produce offspring who uses bubble clouds,
    and vice versa. Virtually all the whales in our population here use one
    of the other techniques (it's about 90%/10% clouds/nets). But it's prey
    dependent: whales are much more likely to use bubbles on fish than on
    Phil Clapham

    Phillip J. Clapham, Ph.D.
    Large Whale Biology Program
    Northeast Fisheries Science Center
    166 Water Street
    Woods Hole, MA 02543

    Tel (508) 495-2316 Fax (508) 495-2066

    > Hello, > > I give presentations on endangered animals. I read the following > information on humpback whale: > > http://www.ravensfire.com/Sitka-whalefestival.html > Bubble net and other forms of cooperative feeding among humpbacks has > only been documented in the 20th century, and only occurs in > Southeastern Alaska. It is a learned behavior and the numbers of > cooperative feeders is increasing as the whales teach the technique to > each other. (Folkens) > > > I wanted to know is it correct that it only occurs in Southeastern > Alaska? Seems like I have read it happened in other areas. > > Is it only a certain number of whales in an area that perform bubble > net feeding? Is it most? If it is a learned behavior, then would all > humpbacks know how to perform it? > > Thanks, > > Mary Vogas

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